0330 hours: Woke up and quickly check our position of GPS. Go outside and check as well. Everything seems to be fine so head back into to bed.
0500 hours: Keep waking up. I know I won’t be able to sleep until I’ve done another check so might as well get up and do it. There’s a very heavy dew on deck and everything is wet.
0600 hours: Check again in the pre-dawn. The tide has turned and coming in fast but we still haven’t moved.
0830 hours: Delma has tidied up inside and cooked brekkie. She laughingly presents me with a Bacon and Egg McWrap without the ‘Mac’. So far I’ve combed my hair, had a scratch and a look around, made some notes and had a cuppa.
A turtle keeps surfacing around the boat at various places, startling me once with a sudden whoosh of air right next to the boat beside me. Over on the southern side of the beach is what looks like a small stream. We are to to learn later there’s a big crocodile stays in there and he’s quite aggressive. Apparently has been known to chase people along the beach but some stories do tend to get better with the telling.
It’s another nice day out there. Seas are calm, thankfully with a nice cooling breeze. It’s time to sort out the upper deck.
1030 hours: Finish squaring away top decks. Sort out the rope and chain for the second anchor and place it into a locker ready for next time. Put the inflatable dinghy over the side to trail astern. Clean the muddy decks with the deckwash. Check the fuel and we’ve used 85 litres so far.
1100 hours: Weigh the anchor and wash the mud off the decks. Set a SW course to clear the western side of Governor Islands.
1145 hours: Put up the mainsail and the staysail since the wind has died and the seas are flat. Quite hot again. Doing 4.4 kts motor sailing which creates a pleasant cooling breeze. Located 4.5 miles from the NW point of Governor Islands. Sir Graham Moore Island and Scorpion Island lay off on the starboard bow.
Delma has been busy cleaning the cockpit. Nice to have a clean vessel. Freezer is working well. The chicken down the bottom is frozen solid. Batteries are charged up. Nice to have a proper working ammeter again.
1300 hours: Little bit of breeze comes up steady off the starboard bow. Put up the headsail and turn motor off. Getting 3.5 kts. Nice and quiet. Cool breeze. Flat seas. Passing western side of Governor Island off the port side. Have set up a trolling line half an hour ago but nothing yet.
Have a lunch of dry biscuits, nuts, tomato, pickles, onion, avocado and sausages.
1400 hours: Wind coming around past mast. Take down the staysail. Slower going but progress is still a reasonable 3 to 3.5 kts given the conditions. Nice relaxed sailing. Entrance to Mission Cove 5.27 miles. Consider anchoring off off Red Bluff but it looks a bit exposed and a bit too deep for me at around 12m depth, although we could quickly set up an anchor system to do it if we particularly want to.
1445 hours: Going far too slow at 2 kts. Change to a goosewing rig and slowly build up speed to 4 kts. Waypoint to entrance of cove at 3.32 miles then another 1.5 miles in from there. Nice sailing.
1500 hours: Just 3 miles to go. Can see a yacht in Honeymoon Bay outside the front of a caravan park. There seems to be a repeater of some sort on the point to the west, but our mobile phones definitely not working. Will try to make some telephone calls through the HF radio Radphone facility later on.
1510 hours: Being called on VHF radio Ch16. It’s Paul from Always who was my neighbour back in the Tipperary Marina in Darwin. Decide to go to Honeymoon Bay instead of Mission Cove for the night and meet up with Paul.
1520 hours: Wind has picked up so take down the goosewing. Doing 4.5 kts still under sail and continuing to build speed.
1540 hours: Take the sails down and motor into Honeymoon Bay.
1600 hours: Drop the anchor in 5m about 150m off the beach. Position 14 degrees 06.05S, 126 degrees 40.93E. Paul comes over in a dinghy, climbs aboard and has a cuppa. His dog Davit also springs onto the deck so feed him a bikkie. Takes a little while but he finally remember who we are and gets almost beside himself with excitement. Paul leaves after an hour or so saying he’ll meet us ashore later.
1715 hours: Go ashore and meet up with Paul who introduces us to Les (Frenchy) and Ruth French, an aboriginal couple who have the lease and run the caravan park here. After a long chat we’re given access to a phone and are able to make a reverse charge phone call to one of our daughters, just to let her know we’re okay. Couldn’t contact our other daughter.
Some more of Frenchy’s family come home. They’d been to a Fun Day at Kalumburu, an aboriginal community 27 km away up the King Edward River. Lots of activity going on for a while.
The park itself is nothing special but seems to be well patronised. There is an ablution block which supplies flushing toilets and cold water showers. The only other facilities are fresh water taps and a portable stainless steel tub for laundry. Frenchy allows us access to the shower block for a nominal fee and although it’s only cold water, it’s feels like heaven to be properly clean again.
Despite the lack of conveniences there must be a dozen or so separate campsites with a 4WD at every campsite. One of the attractions here must be the excellent fishing. Speak to some of the campers, one of whom promises us some fish fillets tomorrow. There’s a certain friendliness and openness in these sorts of places away from civilization that you just don’t get in cities.
By now it’s completely dark. Paul waits for us because he’s got a torch and leads us down the rocky path through the bush to the beach. Play the light around for a quick check of the beach to make sure none of those big unwanted saltwater lizards are present. Help each other get our respective dinghies down to the water since the tide had gone out and they are high and dry. Paul keeps the torch shining on Lowana IV until Delma and I are back aboard.
2000 hours: Stow the outboard motor in its proper place on the pushpit rails and lift the inflatable to the foredeck. We’ve been warned that crocodiles have a tendency to attack rubber ducks at night especially if trailing astern. Everyone ashore seems to be eating fish, but we’re cooking pasta since our trailing lure this afternoon didn’t catch anything. There’s a bit of swell coming into our little bay. Both boats are hobby-horsing a bit but not as bad as they were earlier.
After supper a big yellow moon rises above the low lying land to the east. Sit in the cockpit with a cuppa admiring the setting. Water has stilled even more.
0815 hours: We’re still on Darwin time but the local time is actually 0645 hours. Water in the bay is mirror like. Tide running out and both boats are pointing towards the beach. Beautiful day again. Paul gets into his dinghy and goes ashore. Sunlight reflecting off the water is creating dancing lights on the ceiling inside the boat.
1000 hours: Go ashore with a load of washing. Bit of a queue waiting since there’s only one tub. Water is discoloured but at least it’s fresh and okay for washing. Must be okay for drinking too since no one in the camp seems to be sick. The ablution block consists of two toilets and two showers with separate enclosed cubicles all in the same room.
Frenchy and Paul are down at the power plant looking at the generator which is not running. Meet up with people returning from fishing. They’d caught about a dozen fish including queenfish, mackerel, mangrove jack, stripey, barracuda and rock cod. All had been caught in Mission Cove. Sit down for a chat with some more of the campers.
1200 hours: Back to Lowana IV. Day is getting cloudy and it’s very hot and still. String up a washing line and hang out the washing. A shoal of reasonable sized, diamond shaped silver fish pass underneath the boat about 1m down. Done a lot of fishing around Darwin but never seen these before. Have some lunch. Delma gets keen to do some fishing.
Afternoon: Delma and I jump into the inflatable and head around to Mission Cove. Fish the eastern side of the spit separating Honeymoon Bay and the cove. Get hits straight away and lose 2 lures in quick succession because I’d made the mistake of using old fishing line. Peel off about 5 metres of line from the reel and try again. Immediately get 2 good sized barracouta’s and a mackerel, plus some small stripeys which we throw back. Excellent fishing.
A crocodile about 8 ft or so shows itself about 100m away but isn’t being aggressive. It just swims slowly on the surface away from us but it’s enough to give Delma the heebie-jeebies. She’s not used to seeing them in the wild. Back on Lowana IV we offload the fish fillets into the fridge for dinner tonight.
Storm clouds and thunder happening to the SE and it’s gotten a little blowy. Frenchy tells me later it rained on the road into Kalumburu. The storm goes around us and the winds calm down again where we are so we go back our fishing. Unfortunately the tide is right out and there’s too much weed around so we give it up.
1745 hours: Back at Lowana IV we collect our gear for a shower ashore. Delma does some more washing and we visit Frenchy again for a chat until dusk. He begins to tells us a story about a monkey but is interrupted and has to wait until all his kids are gathered around to listen to it again. They never tire of listening to it apparently. He insists the story is true and has been handed down through the local aboriginal generations of which he and his family are a part. It goes like this:
Spanish missionaries came to this area late last century. There was a mission established at a place named Pago which is in Mission Cove at which there is still evidence of the old mission today. At the time Makassan’s from Indonesia used to come down at the start of the Wet Season and collect trepang, also known as sea-cucumber. They would then leave at the beginning of the Dry Season.
In 1908 one of these visitors gave the priest a monkey as a present. It was a terribly annoying pest but the priest would not get rid of it saying it was one of God’s creatures. Among other bad habits it copied whatever the priest was doing. At the time the priest lived in a straw hut built in the Indonesian style until one day the monkey was playing with matches and burned the house down. Everyone thought that would be the end of the monkey but the priest could not bring himself to have it killed.
One day the priest set out a couple sets of mirrors and shaving gear then proceeded to shave himself. The monkey took up a razor and began copying every movement as usual. On an impulse the priest whipped the blunt side of the razor across his throat. Monkey did the same but it wasn’t the blunt side. Problem solved.
Frenchy tells me there is a stone that marks the resting place of the monkey over at the old mission ruins at Pago. The mission was moved from Pago during WW2 to its present site at Kalumburu.
Dusk: Return to the boat in a beautiful sunset. Paul comes over for a dinner of steak and fish fillets. Have a yarn sorting out the problems of the world – as you do.
2200 hours: Paul returns to his own boat while we wash up.
2230 hours: Moon is only just starting to come up. Sit outside and enjoy the scene. Bay is glassy and the boat is sitting completely still on the water. A bit humid, almost hot tonight.
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